Advancement on the Retired List

Enlisted Soldiers and warrant officers who held a higher grade than their retired grade can be advanced on the retired list. Section 3964, title 10, United States Code (10 USC § 3964) entitles certain retired members of the Army who retired with less than 30 years of active service to be advanced to the highest grade satisfactorily held when their active service plus service on the retired list totals 30 years.

This section of federal law is applicable to warrant officers of the Army, enlisted Soldiers of the Regular Army, Army Reserve members who were serving on active duty at the time of retirement, and members of the National Guard serving on full-time National Guard duty at the time of retirement.

The Army provides guidance in Army Regulation (AR) 15-80, Army Grade Determination Review Board and Grade Determinations. AR 15-80 defines “Highest grade served on active duty” as the grade to which a Soldier was actually promoted and paid pursuant to lawful promotion and does not include promotable status, serving in an acting capacityor holding a position or job title of an authorized higher grade such as acting first sergeant or sergeant major.

When the reduction from the highest grade held was caused by misconduct, inefficiency or for cause, the grade determination can be initiated at the 30-year mark or beyond if the member believes that advancement is appropriate to either the highest grade held or an intermediate grade. If the highest grade held was a commissioned officer, the individual must meet the statutory time in grade requirements to be advanced on the retired list.

Grade determinations for commissioned officers, enlisted Soldiers, warrant officers who retire with 30 or more years of service and individuals who are retired for non-regular service under 10 USC § 12731 (Reserve Component retirement normally at age 60) are completed when placed on the retired list.

If you meet the criteria, you can apply by mailing your application letter to Army Review Boards Agency, AGDRB, 1901 South Bell Street, 2nd Floor, Arlington, VA 22202-4508. There is a sample letter and more information on the ARBA website at For additional assistance, contact your local Retirement Services Officer listed on page 21.

By James W. Scott, Army G-1 Intern